By Del F. CowieTo say this record has been a long time coming would be an understatement. Saukrates has been an influential and continually relevant fixture in Canadian hip-hop since he first emerged back in 1994, yet Season One is only his second full-length album, following 1999's The Underground Tapes. In the intervening time, the classically trained artist has gradually evolved, showing off his virtuosity and versatility as an MC, singer and producer, whether on his intermittently issued solo tracks or countless collaborations. Consequently, Season One could have either been an album to comfortably hew to his revered past or move forward in a new direction. As the title suggests, the latter approach shades the former, but anyone who's paid cursory attention to Saukrates' music in recent years would have noticed elements of the musical direction outlined here. The melodic approach that sometimes courts popular trends may raise the eyebrows of long-time fans, but there's also material that adheres to Saukrates' established eclectic nature.
This record was called Saukrates Season at one point, can you talk a little bit about what the shift was there and why you settled on the concept that you did? "Saukrates Season" was just a single I had released a few years back and I was thinking of calling the album the same title as one of the songs that were turning the street out. But as time passed, I wanted to update it, but I wanted to stick with what that concept is and it's basically blanketing the world like a thunderstorm would. For everybody to get an opportunity to indulge — y'know, 'tis the season. So that concept I wanted to stick with because no matter what I ended up putting on the record it would hold true. And the other thing is I want to keep going; I'm not tired of it. My perspective on things has changed, but I'm not tired of the game so, y'know, after Season 1 comes Season 2. Whether that will end up being the title or not, who knows? It's just to say that it's a wonderful new beginning.
What were the determining factors about what you put on the record? I found some of the music, including the Big Black Lincoln material, showed people that there's more than just rapping going here or just pure straight rap music, which I'm a fan of as well, but there's more going on. And preparing for the stage show to be, y'know, a little more and it had to be encompassed in the music. The songs chosen had to be ones that when we go to perform these we can do work that can be different from everybody else in the rap game and it starts with the audio. Sometimes people try to take the audio, whatever it is, and have it be different on stage and I found that a lot of it gets lost in the translation, that initial essence. I'm one for the live band and extra instruments, and the Big Black Lincoln show we put on with strings and horns and four backup singers. Essentially the larger production, I'm a fiend for. So, it had to resonate in the audio.